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    Hello,
    I have DVDs (4:3) of home movies that I want to convert to files that properly display on a family member's computer, phone, and TV. I copied the .VOB files to a hard drive, merged them together as MPEG-2 files (720x480, NTSC (0.9)), then imported them into a Premiere Pro timeline to perform cuts and add transitions.

    What aspect ratio and resolution settings should I use during export for viewing on the devices mentioned? I assume the PAR needs to be square. I've tried export tests using H.264 at 640x480 (4:3), 720x480 (3:2), and 1280x720 (16:9), but I don't know which one, if any is correct.
    Thank you,
    Eric
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  2. Member DB83's Avatar
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    In it's purest form, your ntsc dvd will display as 640*480 (the 4:3 display aspect ratio is then irrelevant especially that some players will not even recognise the DAR flag unless you were to encode as mpeg2 as with the original dvd)

    Many people will also promote 720*540 as an alternative - it is still 4:3


    You can even go one stage ferther and encode as 1440*1080. This then avoids possible issues for any display which may or may not upscale the frame. This, of course, assumes that the target phone (and not all do) support a 1080 pixel display.


    All displays should add black bars on either side for 16:9 playback. If you wanted to create a 16:9 video you would have to add those black bars (borders) yourself. If you were to export at 720*480 you run the risk of a distorted picture if the player does not recognise the DAR flag and even more distortion if you exported at 16:9
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    The thing you must do is export at 4:3. Most players will respect that, even if the pixels aren't in that ratio. A 3:2 or worse, 16:9 export will stretch your video laterally and you'll have to override the player's auto display to correct.

    DB83 has covered the pixel size.

    If you wanted to create a 16:9 video you would have to add those black bars (borders) yourself. If you were to export at 720*480 you run the risk of a distorted picture if the player does not recognise the DAR flag and even more distortion if you exported at 16:9
    I would strongly advise not doing this. You'll end up confusing yourself or the player with what is black video and what is blank space. All modern players that I've come across will correctly play 4:3 video with black side bars filling in the sides.

    And the ultimate test: on the screen (computer, TV or phone), measure your video frame dimensions with a ruler or tape measure. If it's 1.333333 (being 4:3), you're good to go!
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    Thank you DB83,
    I do believe the 720x540 resolution will satisfy my needs for square pixel devices. I read elsewhere someone suggested 720x537. What is there a major difference between the two resolutions?

    Alwyn,
    As a test for web streaming only, I once exported a 720x4804:3 video as 1280x72016:9 and 1920x108016:9 in hopes of getting the HD designation and better compression on YouTube. I have to admit, both 16:9 files look good to me on YouTube. There appear to be fewer compression artifacts using an HD export versus a SD on YouTube. I also didn't notice any picture distortion (shrinking or stretching), using a perfectly round bass drum in the footage as a reference. Is there something I should be looking for that I may be missing?
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    If you exported at 16:9, there must be distortion/stretching laterally and it will be immediately obvious. If the drum was round before and after the export, then the original must be 16:9 as well. The other possibility is that, during the export, the top and bottom edges have been cropped off to fit the 4:3 image into the 16:9 screen without black bars on the sides. The image will appear zoomed-in.

    To force YT into using the VP9 video codec (allegedly better than the normal H264), give it 1920x1440 4:3.
    Last edited by Alwyn; 4th Dec 2022 at 02:42. Reason: Typo, I should have said 1920x1440 for YT.
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    I do not readilly understand where a dispplay of 720*537 could come from. In is NOT 4:3 as even simple maths would disprove that. If the player recognised a DAR 4:3 flag you would end up with a 716*537 display which is little worse than a 720*540 display. If that player ignored the flag then the image will be slightly distorted beyond the base 537 vertical.

    Now what you have not explained and what Alwyn has aluded to is that with some original sources, especially VHS, is that you might have a number of pixels at the bottom of the screen which represent the head-switching noise. This is NOT a constant number so some sources could be 3 pixels whereas others could be 6 or more. And rather than crop these away if they really do bother you (and they exist in your scenario) a better option is to mask them with a black border but retaining the 720*540 exact 4:3 image.


    And just to clarify, and maybe I did not express this correctly, I never meant to suggest that you should add any borders yourself if the image was not already 4:3. If you do that you 'burn in' an incorrect AR with no means to correct that at the point of display.


    And there is no way that a 4:3 source can display without distortion - per your wheel - as 16:9 without some cropping etc. You can do the maths to determine this.
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    Alwyn and DB83,ing
    Thank you both for your very informative input. I've attached two screenshots from a YouTube video containing a bass drum. The source material is VHS, recorded to a standalone DVD recorder. The 720x480, 4:3, NTSC (0.9) project was exported to a 1280x720, 16:9, NTSC, square pixels (1.0), H.264 file. I did add a mask to the bottom to obscure head switching, and also to the sides.

    The bass drum still looks perfectly round in 16:9. What are the previously mentioned distortions I should be on the lookout?
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  8. The active picture in both of those images is 4:3. If one of them was encoded as 16:9 black pillarbox bars were added to convert the 4:3 frame to a 16:9 frame.
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    Arh Ha. You've/Premiere has exported your video with black pillarbox bars on the side to fill out the 16:9 screen. These days, that's not recommended because all players I have used recently will correctly display a 4;3 video. In other words, they will fill the screen top/bottom and automatically display black side bars. You do not have to hard-code them in.

    As far as YT is concerned, it will display the video exactly as it is with no filler borders; YT doesn't care if it's 4:3, 27:2, or 1:1.

    In the YT the band, the black side bars are hard-coded into the video, and that is why YT is showing it.

    My recommendation is to export as 4:3. Whatever player you're using (or YT) will add borders as necessary to fill in the sides. Avoid using "stretch" (or similar) display mode.

    Now, if your source is also 16:9, ie hard-coded side borders, then I would still crop away those and export as 4:3 from Premiere.
    Last edited by Alwyn; 4th Dec 2022 at 21:08. Reason: Jagabo beat me to it.
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    I will concure with the above re the active screen AR

    What I find 'interesting' is that you were aware, or it was Premiere that was being smart, that you were aware of AR, head-switching (maybe not knowing the precise terminology, and borders 3 years ago when you uploaded this clip (Yeah, I dl'd it for confirmation


    Now some years ago, from my own experience, YT would add their own borders if a video did not 'fill' their window. Now they simply shrink their window, as Alwyn stated, to fit what it receives/re-encodes.


    But to answer your question re 'what to look for' there is no simple response unless you have, as in this case, a perfect circle or totally familiar with the subject matter. So to be absolutely certain you just export, as already recc, as pure 4:3.
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    DB83, I was mistaken. The resolution I mentioned should have been 720x534, and not 720x537.

    I exported this music video specifically for YouTube as 1280x720 HD in order to get the higher audio bitrate than it would have gotten with a SD upload. I think that may be moot now, since YouTube has since removed the 'HD' designation from 720p content. The pillarboxes are baked in, as I knew that YouTube would add them anyway if I had uploaded the video as 4:3, and played it in fullscreen mode.

    In a nutshell, I was primarily concerned with the active window, which appears to be correct. The pillarboxes would be there no matter if 4:3 or 16:9 when viewed fullscreen. Since my current project is going to someone else and needs to be compatible across multiple devices, I will export it as 720x540, 4:3.

    I do have a question about cropping and scaling. When exporting via Premiere/Media Encoder, I set the resolution to 720x540 with square pixels. Now, do I need to 'Scale to Fit' or 'Scale to Fill' under the 'Output' tab? I've never used 'Stretch to Fill'. Also, should I crop the 'Source' to '4:3' or leave it as 'None'? When I crop to 4:3, the dimensions change to 705x480. When not cropped, it is 720x480. Is that correct? Alternatively, would it be better to crop and scale directly on the Premiere timeline, rather than in the Export window?
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  12. Member DB83's Avatar
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    Like I and Alwyn already stated, upload that raw 4:3 video to youtube now and you will see the difference i.e. no black bars/borders added.

    534 does appear more logical given the typical no of pixels covered by the head-switching noise - I did not check that from the uploaded video.


    I was not aware that YT configures the audio dependant on the video - and it is hardly logical to do that. It is well known that it, innitialy, provides more bitrate to HD video and then down-scales that for lower resolutions.


    I can not directly answer your Q. re Premier but here is the thing which may be relevant and not Premiere specific - it has not been previously mentioned as not to confuse the matter and is not critical. Your video is 720 pixels wide. However the active part of that is only 704 pixels and the 16 pixels can be cropped away without any effect to the actual picture - and it still displays as 640*480 or any other pure 4:3 ratio. Some will claim that they see the difference between 640*480 etc. from 720*480 and 640*480 etc. from 704*480. Many will not and only the purest will argue.
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  13. Originally Posted by Eric H. View Post
    I exported this music video specifically for YouTube as 1280x720 HD in order to get the higher audio bitrate than it would have gotten with a SD upload. I think that may be moot now, since YouTube has since removed the 'HD' designation from 720p content.
    Why do you care about the "HD" designation?
    Originally Posted by Eric H. View Post
    The pillarboxes are baked in, as I knew that YouTube would add them anyway if I had uploaded the video as 4:3, and played it in fullscreen mode.
    YouTube is more flexible than broadcast TV and allows HD not only with 16:9 proportions. If you upload 960x720 with square pixels, YouTube will show it as 4:3 HD without pillarboxing. You can see the difference on a smartphone in a regular mode with comments shown, not in the full-screen mode, when there is no difference.
    Originally Posted by Eric H. View Post
    Since my current project is going to someone else and needs to be compatible across multiple devices, I will export it as 720x540, 4:3.
    Why 720x540? 540 is neither YouTube native line count, nor broadcast TV line count (unless you are planning it to be scaled 2x for 1080). Still, it is just an extra re-scaling that you can avoid.
    Originally Posted by Eric H. View Post
    When I crop to 4:3, the dimensions change to 705x480. When not cropped, it is 720x480. Is that correct?
    705 (usually, 704) is correct for analog and some (but not all) digital content.

    If this is going to be a part of another project, why do you care about scaling? Can you simply chop off a piece from your VOB and send it - without any conversion whatsoever - to whoever will be creating the bigger project?
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  14. If you upload 720 or 704x480 VOBs or MPEGs to YouTube, they get resized by YouTube to 640x480. I've done it a few times. If the sources are otherwise okay, then you don't have to reencode them before uploading to YouTube where they'll get reencoded yet again.

    And as mentioned above, if you upload 720x540, YouTube will resize it to 640x480. 540 isn't an acceptable height.
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    Bwaak,
    I cared about the "HD" designation because after several test uploads to YouTube, I noticed there were fewer compression artifacts using 720p HD files than with 480p SD files.
    "Why 720x540?" That is the resolution that DB83 had previously suggested in this thread.
    This is not part of a bigger project. I have individual video projects of home movies I need to export. A family member will be viewing the exported files on a computer, a phone, and possibly played from USB drive or streamed to a TV. The source files are from DVD-Rs. The .VOB files were merged together as MPEG-2 files before importing into Premiere Pro timelines.

    manono,
    I am exporting the projects as H.264, not MPEG-2. YouTube is not the ultimate destination for these files.They are destined to be played directly on a computer, a phone, and possibly a TV.

    From what you've both stated, it appears I should not be exporting as 720x540. Should I simply export as 720x480 with square pixels, then crop to 4:3 in Adobe Media Encoder, yielding a 705x480 resolution?
    Also, is "Scale to Fill" a better option than "Scale to Fit"?
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    And just to re-iterate, 720*540 is promoted by many because it scales better on displays - the maths here backs that.

    Methinks the YT bit was a red-herring and somewhat clouded the issue. But, again, if you wanted compatabilty for all then simply export at 1440*1080. I'm fairly sure YT will support that and not down-scale.


    But if file-size, bitrate etc. concern you then simply export as 640*480 or 720*480 cropped to 704*480 (705* is rather 'odd') and export as 640*480. Those terms 'scale to fill' and 'scale to fit' appear unique to Adobe.


    But I'll leave the discussion here since I am now somewhat repeating myself.
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  17. For YT specifically, you'd want to upscale to at least 720 height (960x720, or pillarboxed 1280x720), in order to access 59.94p. It's more suitable frame rate for home videos, concerts, etc... since your source is interlaced content, otherwise you lose 1/2 the motion samples on YT. You should be exporting 59.94p from Premiere as well, unless the content was film or theatrical
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  18. Originally Posted by Eric H. View Post
    manono,
    I am exporting the projects as H.264, not MPEG-2. YouTube is not the ultimate destination for these files.They are destined to be played directly on a computer, a phone, and possibly a TV.
    As a test for web streaming only, I once exported a 720x4804:3 video as 1280x72016:9 and 1920x108016:9 in hopes of getting the HD designation and better compression on YouTube. I have to admit, both 16:9 files look good to me on YouTube.
    Sorry, I thought YouTube was one of the final destinations because you mentioned uploading to YouTube in two different posts.
    Originally Posted by Eric H. View Post
    Should I simply export as 720x480 with square pixels, then crop to 4:3 in Adobe Media Encoder, yielding a 705x480 resolution?
    No. Crop away any black bars and resize to some 1.33:1 aspect ratio.
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    Thank you manono. I'm sorry for the confusion with YouTube. I was referencing a previous upload which contains a perfectly round object in order to illustrate there was no distortion of the video with a 720*480 export to 1280*720. The final destination for this current project will be files viewed on computer monitors and phones; uploading to YouTube is merely an option.

    I looked for a 1.33:1 aspect ratio in Adobe Media Encoder, and the only one listed is HD Anamorphic 1080. I tried it and it drastically cut the height of the video.

    Perhaps I am missing something regarding the black bars. What is the big deal with having a pillared video? When I watch 4:3 videos on a 16:9 monitor, the black bars don't seem to bother me. I did a test export of the 720*480 project to 1280*720 and chose to 'Scale to Fill' the output, which did fill the entire 16:9 frame, but at the expense of losing the video information at the top and bottom. I guess I'd rather see the whole image with bars on the sides, than have it completely fill a 16:9 frame, but with the top and bottom cut off.

    Is it merely an aesthetic decision to not have black bars on the sides or is there a strictly technical reason for not having them?
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    Is it merely an aesthetic decision to not have black bars on the sides or is there a strictly technical reason for not having them?
    You confuse people (and players). The video "looks" like it's 4:3 when it's actually 16:9. There is no technical reason to do it, and it also takes up space.
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    Methinks you confuse yourself.

    1.33:1 is just another way of stating 4:3 just as 16:9 could be stated as 1.78:1


    You already stated that you have no objection to tv-generated black-bars for 4:3 sources. You will also read that some, mostly millenials, can not abide with them and prefer to fill the picture either by a horizontal stretch or that 'fill' which is a zoom effect. And you have seen the consequences of that.


    But, again, I must agree with Alwyn. There is no logical or technical reason to do it. If the people who you share the material with do not like the bars then let them treat the video however they feel fit to.
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  22. Originally Posted by Eric H. View Post

    Is it merely an aesthetic decision to not have black bars on the sides or is there a strictly technical reason for not having them?
    The only aesthetic decision to make is to have the entire video in its original aspect ratio. You don't want to crop from the top and bottom. You don't need to encode black bars on the sides as the player will add them at playback time.

    I used 1.33:1 instead of 4:3 because 4:3 and 16:9 are DARs (Display Aspect Ratios) used for DVDs. I don't use anything Adobe for video work so I have no idea what it does.
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